The University of St Andrews and the St Andrews Students’ Association have taken an important step towards a major redevelopment of the Students’ Association building in St Mary’s Place.
The University Court has agreed to invest over £400,000 in detailed designs for a top-to-bottom revamp of the Union, which has remained largely unchanged since it was built in the 1970s.
If the final designs and plans are approved by Court, it’s hoped work can start in 2013 to provide St Andrews students with a state-of-the-art Union with many new features.
If the redevelopment goes ahead, it will have a budget of up to £12 million and may include:
- An attractive piazza and new entrance which could transform the current car-park area.
- A new street-facing café, run for students, by students.
- New venues, with the current Venue One split into two distinct spaces: a 420 person capacity flexible performance space and a 600 person capacity nightclub, with a lounge area for an additional 270 persons. The lack of a ‘real nightclub’ in St Andrews could thus be remedied, and the ‘jack-of-all trades’ Venue One may be transformed into a more bespoke space for theatre, concerts, comedy and more.
- A dramatic expansion and improvement in terms of society space on the middle and top floor of the Union. Overall, society space could increase from 8 rooms to 14, with an overall increase of 40% in square meters. This may include a design suite, radio broadcasting facility and film editing suite and will be achieved by the relocation of Travel and Student services away from the building.
- On the top floor, two large flexible rooms could be introduced, both suitable for rehearsals and one soundproofed especially for musicians.
- There could be the introduction of long lacking student facilities such as a kitchen and an artist’s workshop.
- The current Venue 2 could be revamped into a sky bar serving wine and cocktails, and aimed especially at postgraduate students. An acoustic/ sports bar located on the ground floor might replace the current ‘live venue’ functions of Venue 2.
- The current Main Bar could be broken up into smaller areas, each with their own identity.
- A greener, more sustainable building, aiming for the same standards achieved by recent University new builds.
Over the past few years, past and present St Andrews Students’ Association Sabbatical Officers have laid the groundwork for redevelopment, reviewed a number of different models, carried out widespread consultations with students and lobbied the University for funding.
The University Court agreed with students that the upgrade of the Union should be a priority project, subject to available funds.
If it goes ahead, the redevelopment will be funded partly from University coffers and partly through fundraising. St Andrews Principal Professor Louise Richardson has already secured one major donation towards the project.
University Proctor, Professor Lorna Milne, said:
“The Students’ Association building hasn’t changed much since I was a student and I’m excited by the possibility of long awaited and innovative improvements.
“The Union should be a central part of the St Andrews experience and should match the high standards we achieve in so many other areas of university life.
“The University has to be extremely careful about the way it spends and commits money in this challenging and volatile economic climate, but the Union has long been a priority for us and moving to the detailed design stage is a firm indication of our commitment to this very important project.”
Students’ Association President Patrick O’Hare said:
“The sabbaticals, the architects and project board have been working very hard over the past few months to develop a vision for the state-of-the-art Union which students deserve.
“Investment in the Students’ Association building is long overdue, and I’m convinced that the design we have addresses many of the long-term gaps in provision of the Student Experience. The Students’ Association is delighted about the continued support that University Court has shown for this project.”
Sketches and architects drawings of the way the new Union could look will form the central part of an exhibition in the foyer of the present building, beginning shortly.
The exhibition will be open to students, staff and the general public and will form part of an ongoing consultation in advance of the preparation of a detailed planning application.
Issued by the University of St Andrews
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